Red Zone Blues: A Snapshot of Baghdad During the Surge (Anglais) Broché – 1 août 2007
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Escobar has really done his work, and by putting himself in the midst of danger he writes a tight, gripping portrayal of just what is occurring in Baghdad right now, even at the "end" of the surge. The volume is quite slight, I would have loved to have read more of his experiences in Baghdad and other places in the Middle East, as he quite ably captures what the real people are going through - the middle class who've moved to lower class, the lower class barely surviving.
Everyone should take a look at this book and see another side to the one that is constantly being portrayed in the media. And I know that I, myself, as a member of the iPod generation, need to snap out of complacency and take action against what's going on.
Escobar starts his trip in Damascus, Syria the home of thousands of Iraqi refugees. Many of the people who should be building Iraq are no longer there-driven out by ethnic cleansing and violence.
From Damascus it's off to Iraq. Judging from what Escobar reports it's no surprise that 70% of the Iraqis think it's OK to attack Americans. Baghdad is as much a dead zone as it is a "Red Zone".
The US media gives us hints of how bad things are in Iraq but Escobar did what US journalist can't or won't do-talk to the real Iraqis. He may have an agenda but it's a different agenda and one that is more accurate. The book is well worth a read for a more accurate view of what's going on.
The story that Escobar tells is one of pure angst. The situation of the Iraqi People is worse under the American occupation than it ever was under Saddam Hussein. The unemployment rate in Iraq is at a stunning 60%, with most people in Baghdad, once the crown jewel of Islam, begging in the streets trying to feed their families. Escobar writes about the different factions in Iraq and he puts down the US notion that it is "sectarian" violence, he says it is not. Escobar tells of Sunni's supporting Shia and vice versa. He talks about the Sadr Army and Sadr City, poor but stable. He explains why the Sadr Army is "laying low" not confronting the Americans, but waiting and calling on them to leave.
In one part of the book, Pepe Escobar takes issue with the right-wing neo-cons that have declared that Iran is giving weapons and advanced IED'S called explosive form penetrators (EFP'S). In his book Escobar states;
"Iran of course can be very persuasive, holding up some tasty cards up its sleeve- such as hard-earned intelligence directly implicating the Saudis in training the Sunni Arab muqawama (resistance) in Iraq on explosive form penetrators (EFP'S), which the Pentagon foolishly insists come from Iran. Everyone in Iraq knows it is operatives from "axis of fear" allies Saudi Arabia and Egypt-and also Pakistan-who have provided the Sunni Arab guerillas in Iraq with technology and training on improvised explosive devices and EFP's." pg. 79.
This is heady stuff. Forget what the American Government has told you. Read this book and form your own opinion on whether what you hear from the mainstream corporate- controlled media is the truth. This little book is worth its weight in gold as far as who is fighting, why they are fighting, and how this country is turning Iraq into yet another American killing field. If the truth is important to you, get this book.
In many ways it called to mind Al Gore's recent The Assault on Reason, although that focuses as much on what crimes the Bush Bunch has committed against its own people as it does on its behavior in Iraq. Though his writing style makes it a bit hard to follow at times, I kept in mind it was a compilation of essays, not one uninterrupted narration. I'm glad that I read it, but I'm also glad that I'm finished with it.
Many might find the author to be anti-American, but, whether or not he is, he nonetheless provides an accurate picture of how America is seen by Iraqis. This is the value of the book. It should be required reading for all Americans. If Americans refuse to look at how others see us and/or demand they see us as we see ourselves, we are doomed. While we should not compromise on who and what we are, knowing how others see us should help us to make sure our actions are in line with who we really are (and hopefully not point out that we aren't who we think we are).